The panache with which Rahman has written the music score for this movie beggars all description. The music prodigy producing music for the cricket prodigy. The prevalent chant “Sachin, Sachin” rethought/rekindled by Rahman reminds one of how Hans Zimmer wrote the Nolanesque score, “Deshi Basara” in The Dark Knight Rises (2012), reminds one of the Messi chant after he scored the first goal of the night against Deportivo La Coruña resulting in Barcelona winning by 2-1 in March, 2007.
Firstly, Erskine has written a very statistical script. He did not toy with unnecessary emotionality, nor was there anything that is remotely politically incorrect. The ups and downs of “the making of Sachin Tendulkar” kept the ball rolling. Cricket is used as the postcolonial tool of writing back to the centre. Again, there was a little chronological charting of the nationalism that sprouted all around Indian cricket. Tendulkar has sprawled decades, and the vicissitudes of the team (along with the player, Sachin) are documented with measured thinking. It was cinematic, it was musical, it was touching.
Divya Solgama, reviewing the docu-feature for Bollywood Times, writes: “The narrative by Sachin Tendulkar is real and keeps you glued to the silver screen. Though, the dramatized version of Sachin’s childhood track could have been better as well as engaging.” This is where hiring James Erskine paid off. Indian audience has not had the training in weighing the reception of a documentary-feature like this one. Approaching the docu-biopic via the by-lanes of “Not a Movie, But an Emotion” may not be the appropriate critical take on it. Secondly, this is what Erskine had to deal with. Watching the documentary unfold in front of an audience who were expecting another Sachin Tendulkar-starring Neeraj Pandey’s M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story (2016) and trying to map the camera movement, the impeccable shot divisions, the juggernauts of Marathi interviews and cartwheels of camcorder footage from Tendulkar’s family archives may prove to be a ground breaking exercise for any everyday-movie reviewer.
Third, Erskine made it a point that Tendulkar should have his own journey in the plot. It culminated in Dhoni-led 2011-World Cup. It was worth the wait. Erskine also drove home the idea that he is not just a genius, it did take thousands of hours of practice, dealing with constant upheavals, a continuum of support from his loved ones, his undaunted spirit and insatiable thirst for perfection. The title of the documentary may read like “Sachin: Sports Legend of the People of India” but it has two edges.
The docu-feature mostly told Tendulkar’s dreams, and why should it not? It was him, his constant hard work that made “cricket” a household word: across social class, across gender, across peoples, across languages and across generations. But the title also points to a narrative of the rise and fall of the consciousness of a nation-state around him: the audience’s expectations and anguish, the watchers’ belief and misgivings. People watched cricket as an obvious escape from the encroaching drudgery of the cons of the capitalist political economy that India was gradually stepping into, and Erskine has been wonderful in portraying the skein of emotion, historicity and nostalgia with restrained documentary veracity. A match between Pakistan and India lighting up the sky with aggressive nationalism may have been toned down as “Cricket unites us” by the producers but there are germs of a larger commentary on the Indians’ xenophobia and dominating nationalism/aggressive patriotism between the shots of Sachin: A Billion Dreams.
Fourthly, Erskine won’t let you blindly bathe in the glory of The Sachin Myth, no, you have to see the Sachin, re-live his life, feel the Sachin you worship: Sachin Deconstructed. The making of a prodigy: nothing more, nothing less. But it was Rahman all along, who harped on the strings of national nostalgia and the mythical Superman from India, Tendulkar. Divya Solgama unmistakably pens, “The background music by A.R. Rahman works as an additional screenplay in the film.” There is no grain of salt in the verdict on the sound track of the docu-feature.
Fifth, the use of different languages in the docu-feature was also an apparatus showcasing the cricket-united nation-state and its colours. Erskine had to do it the Aristotelian way: the right dosage of nostalgia had to trail the motion picture, and on the other hand he could not wallow in the bog of sentimentality because he is erecting a documentary not a romantic comedy. The filmmaker approached the lives and times of Tendulkar, the Golden Sportsperson in our country using the Aristotelian Golden Mean. He was making The Unforgettable Sachin “memorable” once again, one can only imagine what he had gone through in scripting the docu-feature.
The feature did comment on the advent of capitalism in Indian Sports, the leap from Doorsarshan to ESPN. The dark clouds of Match Fixing and bribery were also off-shoots of this Comedy of Menace called capitalist Cricket, now an entertainment industry. Then there was the mob-mentality of Indians burning effigies of their worshipped mythical sportspersons.
Erskine’s plotline has two rock bottoms and two points of culmination. If Sachin is the collective consciousness of our pride, Erskine did not leave any stone unturned in palleting the chiaroscuro of the collective consciousness of billions of Indians stripping Sachin down and building him up. Aamir Khan’s comment is a fitting epilogue in this respect, “I think, Sachin Tendulkar is the embodiment of India’s collective pride.” After Dangal became a historical “turning point” in feminist sports-biopic and Pink emphasized another robustly “feminist court procedural turn” in Indian cinema, one hopes Sachin: A Billion Dreams, an earnest documentary in the theatre big screens, will branch out to be another “proud turn” in the history of the reception of Indian cinema.
Originally Reviewed by : Abilash Dey Sarkar published via site Author Pratyush Mondal Image Courtesy : Google
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